Last year we really struggled to get through our school year. It was a year of adjustment for both Clayton and me, and a year of constant growth and exploration for Jackson. And while adjustment is still taking place and Jackson will never stop "exploring," this year seems to be much easier on us all, with actual learning taking place once again. One major thing that has changed is my overall approach to Clayton's learning. For the first two years, I was dead set on him learning to read using the phonics approach, simply because as a learner myself, it seems the most intuitive. But after two years of butting my head against the wall and Clayton only recognizing the letters in his name and no others on a regular basis, I finally realized it might help if I teach him HIS way instead of mine!
Clayton is a listener and an observer. It dawned on me that I should focus on sight words instead of the sounds of the actual letters in each word. DUH! It also dawned on me that reading may be a long way down the road for Clayton and maybe I should focus on just keeping his attention for more than five minutes at a time before I tackle his reading of an entire book! So with those things in mind, I purchased the "My Baby Can Read" series and went back to unit studies (the approach I used during his kindergarten year). The MBCR stuff was fun for him at first, but quickly got old and boring. I wish I would have started him on it four years ago instead of waiting until now. Jackson has learned two words so far though: "hi" and "elephant." :) I still haven't totally given up on it for Clayton, but we have taken a break from it for now.
The change back to unit studies has been fantastic. And while I've used other resources in the past, so far this year I've used all my material from Hands of a Child. We started the year off studying trains (since both boys are completely fascinated by them), did a unit on horses, and now we are studying the history behind Thanksgiving. I am only using about a third of the material in the studies I've purchased, and we take about four times as long as planned with a study. But with lots of repetition and interactive learning, Clayton is definitely retaining the information better than years past. Without even being prompted, he told his speech therapist yesterday that the pilgrims came on the Mayflower. So awesome! Definite progress in his ability to learn and relate information!